By Airman 1st Class Codie Collins
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Did you know that every C-130J on Little Rock Air Force base has a special key? This key doesn’t start the plane, it doesn’t open the plane, in fact it has no practical purpose with the plane at all. Yet a select few crew chiefs have the honor of receiving this key where exceptional work is the standard.
Little Rock AFB received a C-130J from Lockheed Martin, and its key was awarded to Senior Airman Julian Santiago, 19th Maintenance Squadron dedicated crew chief, Oct. 19, 2017.
There are currently 28 C-130s assigned to the 19th AW and there is a key for each one. The keys to each individual aircraft are presented to knowledgeable crew chiefs who stand out in their career field. Once a key has been given, no other crew chief will receive a duplicate key to the same aircraft.
“It’s an honor to receive a key,” Santiago said. “I work hard, I but was surprised to be chosen. It’s humbling to be the dedicated crew chief for the last C-130J to come to Little Rock AFB.”
A crew chief must be technically proficient and prove themselves to be a hardworking, dedicated Airman to be eligible to receive a key.
“Santiago sees tasks through to the end and takes pride in his plane,” said Staff Sgt. Jordan Scott, 19th Maintenance Squadron crew chief.
Sweating through the scorching summer heat, bundling up for the winter snow or facing any other element Mother Nature summons, crew chiefs keep Combat Airlift flying through their continuous dedication to their craft.
“Crew chiefs receive the key to the aircraft because we put a lot of hard work into fixing our planes,” Santiago said. “It’s a 24-hour operation to keep the aircraft safe and in the air. Without maintainers, the planes wouldn’t fly.”
Maintaining the C-130J routinely enables Team Little Rock Airmen to perform Combat Airlift by providing quick supply to humanitarian airlift relief to disaster victims and airdrop supplies and troops into the heart of contingency operations in hostile areas.